15 Common Types of Cyber Attacks You Should Be Aware in 2023

Cyberattacks have become increasingly sophisticated over the years. Gone are the days of fake emails that you could simply ignore to stay safe from cyberattacks. Today, cybercrime has become a business valued at USD 43 billion globally and is steadily growing by over 15% every year.

There are over 2300 complaints of cybercrime every day according to the FBI. All the victims of cybercrime have lost USD 6.9 billion to fraud in just 2021 alone. This amounts to an increase of 65% in global losses in one year, which makes it mandatory for businesses and individuals to educate themselves regarding the types of cyberattacks and the preventive measures they can take to overcome them. To deal with this problem big industries hire Cybersecurity experts to deal with this problem.

Defining Cyberattacks:

A cyberattack can be defined as any action taken to access unauthorised systems or networks to cause harm or disruption. They are unwelcome, expensive and unauthorised attempts at stealing, exposing, disabling, altering or destroying data. According to Cybersecurity Ventures researchers, cyberattack damages will stand at $10.5 trillion every year by 2025. 

With these figures in mind, you must understand the various cyber security threat types that you should prepare for.

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Types of Cybersecurity Attacks:

Understanding what you are up against is the first step toward success. Cyberattacks can be of many types and require different preventive measures to keep networks secure. They endanger individuals, startups and large businesses, based on the scale of the attack and the individual’s worth. 

These are the top types of cybersecurity attacks:

1. Malware attacks:

Malware attacks are the most common category of cyberattacks. Malware includes any software virus like spyware, adware, ransomware, trojans or worms. The Trojan virus gets its name from Greek mythology’s Trojan Horse. It pretends to be legitimate software to trick users. Ransomware enters a system and blocks all access until its demands are met. Spyware is a solution that can steal all system data without anyone ever finding out. Adware is any software that displays content like banners or pop-ups on your screen.

A malware breach is possible if there are any vulnerabilities in a network. If a user unwittingly clicks an ingenuine link, it downloads infected attachments or programs that can enter the system and cause damage.

Preventing a malware attack:

  • Use an antivirus solution designed to protect systems and networks from malware. Some of the popular ones are McAfee, Avast and Norton Antivirus

  • Use a firewall. Firewalls filter any data traffic entering your device. Windows comes with a default firewall known as Windows Firewall while Mac OS X has the default Mac Firewall.

  • Learn to identify suspicious links and avoid them.

  • Regularly update browsers and operating systems. 

2. Phishing attacks:

Phishing is one of the most common types of security threats that a business faces. It is a social engineering attack where the hacker impersonates an authorised contact and shares fake emails or messages. Without knowing, the victim opens the message and clicks a message link or downloads the wrong file. This gives the attacker access to sensitive data and financial credentials. Sometimes, they also install malware on the device.

Preventing a phishing attack:

  • Scrutinise every email you receive. Phishing emails generally contain large errors like spelling mistakes, formatting errors or factual errors that a legitimate source would be careful to ignore. 

  • Use an anti-phishing toolbar.

  • Update all account passwords regularly.

3. Password attack:

This is one type of attack where the hacker uses several programs and tools to crack a user’s password. Some of the common tools are Cain, Abel, Aircrack, Hashcat and John the Ripper. They use password attacks such as dictionary attacks, brute force attacks and keylogger attacks.

Preventing a password attack:

  • Create a password that combines numbers, alphabets and special characters. 

  • Don’t use the same password for every account or website.

  • Don’t add any hints to your passwords openly.

  • Keep passwords updated to limit your exposure to attacks. 

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4. Man-in-the-Middle attack:

An MITM (Man-in-the-Middle) attack is also called an eavesdropping attack. Under this type of attack, the attacker intercepts communication between two parties by hijacking the client and host interaction. Thus, they can manipulate and steal any data exchanged between them. The connection between the client and server is connected and all communication flows through the attacker. 

Preventing an MITM attack:

  • Use encryption across all your devices and assess your website security. 

  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi without a VPN.

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5. SQL injection attack:

An SQL (Structured Query Language) injection attack generally takes place on a website that is database driven. The hacker manipulates an SQL query by identifying vulnerabilities in a network, injecting malicious code through them and entering the website search box. It can thus force the server to reveal sensitive data. As a result, the hacker can edit, view and delete all the tables in a database. They also get system admin rights through such an attack. 

Preventing an SQL injection attack: 

  • Use a system designed to detect intrusions. They help identify unauthorised access to any network.

  • Validate all the data supplied by a user. Keeping a validation process in place always keeps user input verified and accurate. 

6. DOS or Denial of Service attack:

A DOS attack is a great threat to any organisation. In this form of attack, a hacker targets a system, network or server and floods it with spam and traffic to saturate its bandwidth and resource capabilities. This sudden surge in incoming requests will overwhelm the server and either slow down the website or shut it down completely. This means the business cannot attend to genuine customer requests, disrupting the customer experience and slowing down business operations. This type of attack is also known as a Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS attack when several compromised systems are used to launch this attack. 

Preventing a DoS or DDoS attack:

  • Analyse website traffic regularly to recognise malicious users.

  • Identify warning signs such as intermittent shutdowns and network slowdowns. In the case of such events, organisations need to enforce preventive measures immediately.

  • Create a response plan and protocols for such incidents. Maintain a checklist and ensure your data centre and team are adept at handling DDoS attacks.

  • Outsource all DDoS prevention tasks to a cloud-based service provider.

7. Insider threat:

An insider threat is unlike any other form of cyberattack. While most malicious attacks come from the outside, an insider threat is an individual within the targeted network waiting for the right time to strike. Insider threats can cause unprecedented levels of damage to an organisation. 

An insider threat could be both intentional and unintentional. It could be a competitor or malicious third party who sneaks into the network and then strikes at the opportune time. It could also be a careless individual who clicks on links without verifying their authenticity. 

Preventing an insider threat attack:

  • Create a culture of security awareness and educate all employees and customers about potential threats and how to avoid them.

  • Limit the resources that staff members can access based on their roles in the organisation.

  • Companies should train all employees to identify security threats, particularly insider threats. This can help employees recognise when they are being manipulated by a hacker and they can report the incident to the relevant authorities. 

8. Cryptojacking:

Cryptojacking sounds like cryptocurrency for a reason. It is a highly-specific form of cyberattack where the hacker accesses someone else’s system to mine cryptocurrency. They gain access by either targeting and infecting a website or manipulating the victim into accessing an infected link. They also use JavaScript-coded ads online to this end. Cryptomining generally takes place as a background task, so the victim might not even realise it. 

Preventing cryptojacking attacks:

  • Update all software and security apps before you start mining cryptocurrency.

  • Have all employees and partners undergo training for cryptojacking awareness to identify and avoid such threats. 

  • Install ad blockers as JavaScript ads are the primary sources of all cryptojacking attacks. MinerBlock is one of the most common and effective extensions that you can use to block and recognise crypto-mining attacks. 

9. Zero-day exploit:

a zero-day exploit is a type of cyberattack that occurs as soon as a network announces an existing vulnerability. most network vulnerabilities don’t have an immediate solution or fix. therefore, the vendor infor ms users or employees so that they are aware. however, sometimes this information also unwittingly reaches an attacker. 

Depending on the type of network vulnerability, the developer or vendor can take a specific amount of time to identify the issue and fix it. During this time, the attacker targets the vulnerability and exploits it before any solution can be implemented. 

Preventing zero-day exploits:

  • Make sure your organisation has well-communicated processes for patch management. Use a management solution to help automate these processes and therefore avoid deployment delays. 

  • Create a plan for incident response to quickly identify, prevent and avoid cyber attacks. Design this plan to focus more on zero-day attacks. Thus, the damage can be minimised and the impact can be mitigated.

10. Watering hole attacks:

In a watering hole attack, the victim is a specific group within an organisation or location. The cyber attacker targets a website that the targeted group frequently uses. This is done by either researching the group or by making educated guesses based on their behaviour. 

The attacker then infects the website with malware that can then impact the systems of the victims. The malware used in these attacks always targets the personal information of the victims. The hacker can also gain remote access to the infected computer.

Preventing watering hole attacks:

  • Update all software and systems consistently to minimise the risks of attackers exploiting any vulnerabilities. 

  • Use network security solutions and tools to identify watering hole attacks or possibilities. An IPS or intrusion prevention system is highly effective in detecting suspicious activities. 

  • Keep all online activities concealed or encrypted to prevent watering hole attacks. Use a VPN and the private browsing feature of your browser. A VPN can create a secure network across the internet and behaves as a clock for all your browsing activity. 

How to Prevent Every Common Cyber Attack:

In the points above, you have seen different ways to prevent individual types of cyberattacks. To summarise, here are some best practices you should follow to ensure you remain secure in the long run.

  1. Keep changing your passwords every 5-6 months. Make sure you use a strong combination of numbers, alphabets and symbols. However, don’t make it so complex that you might forget it. 

  2. Regularly update your applications, operating systems and browsers. Every update fixes bugs and removes vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited by hackers and cybercriminals. Make sure you use a legitimate antivirus solution. 

  3. Use network security tools designed for Access control, application security, intrusion prevention systems etc.

  4. Don’t open any emails from an unknown sender. Check them carefully for any glaring errors or signs of fraud.

  5. Use a VPN. This ensures the traffic running from your device to the server is always encrypted. 

  6. Back up all your data regularly. Cybersecurity experts recommend always having three copies of each data file stored across two separate types of media and one offline location. Thus in the event of a cybersecurity attack, you can erase all system data and then restore it using the backed-up data. 

  7. Train and educate employees on the various principles of cybersecurity. 

  8. Use multi-factor or two-factor authentication. This requires a user to share two different factors for authentication to prove their identities. Whenever users are asked for any information besides their username and password, it is known as multi-factor authentication. This is critical for ensuring accounts remain secure. 

  9. Keep Wi-Fi networks secure if you are using them regularly, such as home or office Wi-Fi connections. Don’t use a public network without activating your VPN first. 

  10. Keep your mobile device safe as they make for easy targets. Always download and install apps from a trusted source and keep your device updated regularly. 

Cybersecurity is a booming domain within the IT industry today. If you are looking for a future-proof career and want to take it in a new direction, this is the best move for you. To give your career an edge, enrol in a cybersecurity training course on Koenig today.

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Armin Vans
Avni Singh has a PhD in Machine Learning and is an Artificial Intelligence developer, researcher, practitioner, and educator as well as an Open Source Software developer, with over 7 years in the industry.



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